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Innovative treatments meet the needs of clients with co-occurring disorders

Rosecrance helps dual diagnosis clients by introducing outcomes-based treatments.

If a person is diagnosed with a substance use or mental health disorder, they have a one-in-two chance of experiencing the other disorder during their lifetime. However, an increase in individuals with dual diagnoses over the past two years has prompted providers like Rosecrance to develop care for many behavioral health needs.

“Mental health issues and substance use often go hand-in-hand,” said Rosecrance Chicagoland Director Matthew Quinn. “It usually starts innocently with experimentation and they feel calm. The brain gets tricked into thinking that temporary relief the substance provides is a solution to feelings. It snowballs over time as the individual chases that initial happy, relaxing feeling.”

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration noted that the number of adults with co-occurring disorders nearly doubled from 9 million in 2018 to 17 million in 2020. Co-occurring disorders rose at almost the same pace among adolescents as well.

Rosecrance staff have seen the increases as well, particularly with anxiety and depression often being paired with alcohol or marijuana use as individuals turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to self-medicate. Disordered eating also is on the rise among adolescents.

No matter the order in which disorders develop, brain chemistry often is at the root. In adolescents, it may be emotional dysregulation resulting from the young mind’s inability to fully cope with life transitions or stress. With adults, co-occurring disorders can be inherited through genetics, triggered by biological responses to situations, or result from extreme stress or trauma.

Rosecrance helps dual diagnosis clients by introducing outcomes-based treatments that give the brain time to heal and equip individuals with healthy emotional coping skills. For someone whose primary concern is a substance use disorder, treatment may emphasize relapse prevention, medication-assisted treatment, and 12-Step disciplines. A person with a primary mental health diagnosis will likely focus on skill-based therapies such as cognitive or dialectical behavior therapy. In addition, all clients’ families are involved in the treatment process.

“Recovery is a journey that is one step at a time,” said Adrienne Adams, M.D., Rosecrance Griffin Williamson Campus Medical Director. “By working on both aspects together, we promote the best path to lasting recovery for each person.”

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